People Over Tasks

Tasks. To do’s. There are always things that need to be done. It’s easy when you lead a busy life to start focusing on the tasks that need to be done, and forget the real reason you are here: relationship. Why do we do this? It makes us feel significant to accomplish things. It makes us feel important if we can get lots of tasks done, but in the end, we feel empty because we have no connection. So, for me this year, one of my goals is to remember to connect with those around me, to love those around me, not to focus so much on what needs to get done that I don’t think about the person right in front of me.

Above it all, relationship is the goal. Family is the goal. Connection is the goal. Doing life together for the long haul is the goal. Loving others is the goal. Have you guys experienced this tension? How did you learn to focus on the people in front of you while still being productive and efficient? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Take This Piece of My Heart

You know, I have to be honest. This past year I’ve spent a lot of time feeling like a failure. Thinking about my mistakes and how I need to be and do better. I’ve spent a lot of time obsessing over the negative and speaking death over myself.

I’m a failure. I’m not good with people. I’m awkward. I’m anxious. I’m fearful. I can’t ever get it right. I haven’t done anything with my life. I never change. I’m not intelligent or beautiful enough. I have no purpose.

All of these things have become my mental realities, if I’m being honest. My day to day thoughts. I’ve struggled and struggled, trying to fight the thoughts and feelings, and it hasn’t been easy. The depression has weighed on me heavy, and I’ve pushed on, because somehow I know I’m made for more.

Part of me is wondering why in the world I’m being so vulnerable with you all, but part of me knows it’s right. Part of me knows that if you know you’re not alone in your struggles, you may find hope to continue another day. To keep fighting, through every dark thought and moment, until you find the light. Yes, there is a light. There is hope. There is an incredible future for you that God has planned, and He is better than you could have ever imagined Him to be.

What I’m realizing is that the thoughts that haunt me are not to be my realities. The thoughts that haunt you are not to be your realities, either. God is calling me and you to a heavenly reality, where we get new vision of Him and new truth about ourselves. He is calling us to speak new things, think new thoughts, and become who we already are in Him. He’s calling us to really connect with Him as His kids.

I want to live from the reality of who I am in Him, from knowing I am great in Him, rather than striving to become something great because I believe I’m really not that great, yet.

So, that’s the goal this year. To really be rooted in my identity in Jesus. To know my worth, my value, and the character and kindness of my Father. If he wouldn’t speak it to me, I probably shouldn’t speak it over myself. If he wouldn’t think it about me, I probably shouldn’t think it about myself. His words need to become my words, and His thoughts need to become my thoughts. I really believe that as I change my words and thoughts about Him and myself, that my life is going to begin to change. And if you do this, yours can, too. So here’s to hope. Here’s to vulnerability & breaking open our hearts like jars before others, praying they will cling to the hope in our words as they identify with our struggles. Here’s to knowing who we are. Here’s to 2017. It’s going to be a freakin’ incredible year. Love you all.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:21-23

Not Happy

You felt the joy leaving you, even physically. Something happened, someone said something, some thought reminding you of your mistakes came up, something happened, and your strength left you. It’s all too familiar. 

For so long, we have thought that joy is either something that we have or something that we don’t have. We have thought, “If things go well in my life, I can be joyful, and if things go to crap, I can’t have joy anymore.” Well, that’s actually called “happiness.” It is based on happenstance. If something good happens, I’m happy. If something bad happens, I’m not happy. I know I can relate to letting circumstances control my state of well being. It’s like being tossed to and fro by the waves of the sea. You become unstable and unhappy. But this really isn’t the way God created us to live. He wants us to live with unexplainable joy, unmoved by outward circumstances. 

The Bible says that the joy of the Lord is our strength. It actually strengthens our body, soul, and spirit so that we can live with hope despite adverse situations. And just as we choose to let a situation control our reaction, steering us toward sadness or anxiety, we can choose to rejoice every day, steering us toward trust in God. I’m not saying it’ll be easy or fun or that you’ll always feel emotions of happiness. But if Paul could be whipped, beaten, and stoned by persecutors and still rejoice in all things, I think we have some room to grow. 

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Rejoicing means praising and thanking God no matter what is happening. It’s being glad in God, finding your delight in who He is and His unchanging goodness toward you. It’s having a thankful heart toward Him at all times, which is like medicine to the soul, uplifting our countenance and bringing life to us and those around us. When we rejoice in God, He fills us with joy. 

But let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence. Let them be filled with joy.
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭68:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

This topic, for me, is one of the hardest to get down. I’m probably much like many of you reading, in the sense that I allow things to steal my joy quite often. I’m very in touch with my emotions, and it can be a strength as well as a weakness. I have found one thing, though. Just like any other habit, the habit of rejoicing at all times becomes more and more of a first reaction the more we do it. Friends, it’s in the Bible. Jesus has purchased something for us. We should want to have it. We should want to obtain it. 

This isn’t about “living a positive life,” although I see nothing wrong with living a positive life. This isn’t just about thinking good thoughts, although thinking good thoughts is important. This is about fighting to be joy-keepers, and even greater, joy-givers through our lives. It’s about living with joy that carries us through any situation, because it’s joy from God. This joy is truly available to us as children of God if we will lay hold of it by praising and thanking God. Thankfulness and praise (rejoicing) are the doorway to joy. 

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Xx,

Deanna 

Roadblocks

What is it that stops you? You know, those times when you’re going along and doing great, pursuing your dreams, growing, and all of a sudden, BAM. Something gets in the way. You’re sideswiped and knocked down by some familiar voice. Yes, a familiar voice.

It’s not a random voice, a voice you’re not used to. It’s a voice you’ve heard for many years, probably since childhood. You’ve grown accustomed to it, and whenever you hear it speak, you freeze. You’re paralyzed and distracted from any good thing in your life.

What is it for you? Is it a voice of fear? A voice of failure? Of shame? Of doubt? We all struggle with different forms of resistance in life, but we each have to identify for ourselves what is resisting us personally. Just as God has a plan for our lives (Read Jeremiah 29:11-14), I believe the enemy does as well, and he schemes against us to throw us off course and to convince us to give up the fight.

Once we realize the voice that is speaking to us, we must ask the Holy Spirit what lie we are believing. What lie am I believing that’s causing me to live in fear, in shame, in doubt? Identify the lie.

Once we have identified this lie, we have to break our agreement with the lie. We can say, “I will not agree with this lie any longer. I break the power of this lie over my life, in Jesus’ name.” Many of us have continued to live in bondage simply because we have agreed with the enemy’s lies. We agree with his lies when we say things like, “I’m a failure. There’s nothing more God could do with my life.” “I’m too fat.” “I’m not beautiful. No one could love me.” “I can’t get out of this.” “I will never get free of this.” “I’ve done too much bad to do something great.” All of these are lies the enemy speaks into our minds, and when we choose to agree with those lies, we have partnered with the spirit operating over that lie. That spirit now has a foothold because we have chosen to come into agreement with its lies. That is why we must end our agreement with that lie. We must repent (which means to change our thinking).

Great, you’ve identified the lie. But now this is probably one of the most important parts. What is the truth you are going to replace the empty space with? The lie once occupied the space of your heart, now you must fill yourself with truth. What does the Word of God say about the issue? Read it, take it in, study it, speak it over yourself. Do whatever you need to do to fill yourself with hope and life and truth. Getting free IS possible, and it is YOUR choice. Identify the lie, break your agreement with it, and proclaim the truth. You can do all things with God.

Xx,

Deanna

Like Me

Have you ever posted something on social media, hoping people would like and comment? Hoping people would take notice of your beauty, your coolness, your accomplishments, your success? 

Have you ever done something good, dressed a certain way, or hung out with a certain crowd, simply to impress others and get recognition? 

Have you ever longed for fame, for popularity, for riches, for a relationship to fulfill you?

Yeah, I’m sure you can probably relate to many of these things because you are human, and us humans, well, we tend to search for earthly security in anything we can get our hands on. We don’t really feel that special or beautiful or talented or successful, so we search for security and affirmation from others. We long for someone else to validate us and tell us who we are. We want to feel significant and purposeful. We want to feel loved. Noticed. Wanted. You’re not alone. And those desires aren’t there on accident. 

Those desires, and even needs, were placed there by God. He created you with the need to be loved and to be significant because He wants to fill you with purpose and complete you with His love. But you see, we pursue so many things before Him, and they give a false sense of security for a time. We set up false gods in our hearts that steal our affection and attention from the main thing. 

But what if we truly went to Him for our security? What if we really gave our lives and hearts and committed to following Christ? To dying to ourselves daily? It is only when we lose our life that we will find it, but when we try to hold onto it, we will lose the very thing we grasp for. 

My heart is to daily find my security in God. To lay down all other things that tell me they can give me security. To trust in Jesus and not in riches, talent, worldly success, or in man’s approval or praise to give me value. I will find my value in Jesus alone. Will you join me? Let’s choose to believe His Word. You are a child of God. Loved and filled with purpose and a hopeful future. God will take care of your every need & fulfill your heart’s desires of love & significance. He sees you. He notices you. He cares. Just be His child. You don’t have to strive any longer for significance. 
Xx,

Deanna 

Rainbows and Rain Clouds 

The emotions, the conflict, the rise, the fall of day to day life. The waves of life can be unsuspected and unrelenting. Sometimes it feels like my emotions send me on a rollercoaster, jeopardizing my joy, repositioning my mind without my permission, and tainting my awareness of reality. I don’t know if I’m the only one, but sometimes my emotions can get me down in the dumps. They lie to me and tell me I’m powerless, I’m alone, and I’m lost for purpose. I’ve wasted many years of my life listening to my emotions and being led by them as if they were the Word of God.

 But the Word of God says, 
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:12-13‬ ‭NIV‬
We have a choice. Every single day, we can choose to allow our emotions to dictate our actions, or we can allow the Word of God to define us and direct us. We can choose to be led by the Holy Spirit and not by our flesh. So, the choice is mine. The choice is yours. Will you go on this journey with me of daily choosing life, instead of listening to the flesh that constantly competes for our devotion? Just as much as we have the power and a choice to be negative or to believe detrimental lies, we also have the power to choose to rejoice, to choose to love, to choose to believe truth about God, ourselves, others, and our situations. I believe this season and coming year is a time where God is bringing us into freedom and into promise, where we have been discouraged and defeated. It is a season to begin living in true victory.
Two paths lie before you. Which will you choose? 
Xx,

Deanna

Welcoming the Pain of Pruning

Have you ever felt like you’ve failed? Like you really haven’t done your best, you’ve let yourself settle for mediocre, you haven’t pushed yourself to your potential? Yeah, me too. It’s those moments of realization that aren’t always so fun, but are opportunities for us to rise to our God given potential.

Recently, I had a wake up call moment, and it was quite embarrassing to tell the truth. Nothing like someone else’s correction and guidance to slap you into reality. I realized that I was settling for average. I was letting fear dictate my life, letting emotions control me. And I’m starting to see that I’ve done that in many areas of my life in the past and currently. I’ve come to make a choice that I won’t be doing that any longer. I am choosing to become better in every area, to be the best me I can be with God’s help.

You see, I’m realizing that I do have the power to change, the power to become all God wants me to be. I have the power to grow. And so do you. We all have those moments where we are faced with the reality of where we’re at, whatever that looks like. Maybe in some areas of your life you’re doing great, but in some others you realize you need to grow. Maybe you need to grow in patience, maybe in self control, managing your time, money, or growing in your talents. You may feel emotions of failure and disappointment right now because in the past you didn’t take action, and you feel like you still can’t for some reason. Well, the good news is, that’s not true! I’m here to tell you that it is possible for you to get past this hurdle.

You have power from the Holy Spirit to make a choice and grow. Take that conviction you feel and turn it into action. You are not obligated to follow what your “flesh” wants any longer. You are now under the leading of the Holy Spirit, and in Him there is power, a sound mind, love, peace, hope, and joy. Don’t let your flaws or missteps discourage you and keep you in defeat. Go on a journey of growth and allow God to prune you, even though it hurts. Encourage yourself and know that you are able to do all things with Christ. That’s what I’m doing. Can you imagine what your life could look like if you chose to grow in times of pruning instead of shrinking back in despair and weakness? In him you are strong, able, a mighty warrior, and your life has purpose far greater than you could ever imagine.

So Lord, prune me, and help me choose daily to grow into all you want me to be.

xx,

Deanna